10 Things You Didn’t Know About Chad Gray
Chad Gray, lead vocalist of Mudvayne and Hellyeah, turns the big 4-0 today! He's a prolific and respected vocalist, doing time in two bands. An admitted "hustler," Gray has adopted the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" mentality and he once said that he doesn't want to be onstage barking songs like 'Dig' or 'Hellyeah' when he is 60. That's 20 years from now, so we can still expect to enjoy the singer's dynamic voice on stage for a bit longer. Overall, Gray is an unassuming and reluctant rock star. He's not chasing the fame, even though he's enjoyed platinum success. He's just a regular dude with the noble goal of making quality music. In celebration of Gray's milestone birthday, we're presenting 10 things you may or may not know about him:
Before forming Hellyeah with Mudvayne guitarist Greg Tribbett, former Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, Damageplan basssist Bob Zilla and drummer Vinnie Paul (of Pantera fame), Gray and Maxwell were working on a project called Coldwhitechrist. Unfortunately, his Mudvayne obligations at the time prevented him from being the vocalist of the band, which never truly got off the ground.
Gray and guitarist Greg Tribbett are partners in Mudvayne, Hellyeah and beyond! They have teamed up to work in the studio with bands, and one recent project found them co-writing and co-producing the song 'Victim' by Man Made Machine from Phoenix. MMM's debut album 'Become' is out now.
Gray and Tribbett also did some knob twiddling for neo-metal band Nonpoint, producing their sixth album 'Miracle.' Gray also lent his vinegary vocals to the title track. The singer has said that he is more interested in that side of the business and thoroughly enjoys helping bands craft their songs.
Gray was quite close to his grandmother Betty Rau, having written the song 'Death Blooms' from Mudvayne's debut album 'L.D. 50' about her. He felt that she was being neglected as she neared her final days on earth and was moved enough to memorialize her in the song.
His nickname when Mudvayne first burst onto the scene in the '00s was "Kud." Or "Chüd." He has also been referred to as "Helvis." You can see his name stitched onto his work shirt during this interview. How very blue collar of him.
Hellyeah dole out meat and potatoes hard rock for the average blue collar, redblooded American, something Gray takes pride in. During a live studio chat with AOL Noisecreep's Creep Show (hosted by this writer), he acknowledged that fans look to Hellyeah as an indulgence and escape. "People need this," he said. "I'm not making a political statement. People deal with that s--- every day. We're giving people a relief... a night where they are not worried about the house payment or car payment. It's a little self indulgence. When they see us on the calendar, that we're coming to town, they think, 'F--- it all. Let's go out and have a kick ass time.'"
His aforementioned grandmother was clearly a profound influence on her grandson's life. She actually raised him and he used to perform in the local choir because of her. She must be smiling down on him, as he has gone on to become one of the biggest hard rockers of the '00s.
He once worked in a Firestone tire factory, making $40,000 per year. It was the same facility that produced faulty tires that were used on Ford Explorers, and caused the vehicles to roll! He also told the Peoria Journal Star (courtesy of Blabbermouth) that, "I had a job that paid good money and I basically wasn't living my life, you know, I wasn't following the dream in my heart. I basically quit a $40,000-a-year factory job and moved to Peoria. In typical kid fashion, I didn't have one dime of savings, spent it on the stupidest crap ever, you know, bubble gum and pinwheels and beer."
Most bands, metal or otherwise, would sever limbs to attend the Grammys. But not Gray. He wasn't feeling the pomp and circumstance when he attended the posh ceremony in 2006; he went since Mudvayne were nominated for Best Metal Performance for 'Determined' and admitted to experiencing discomfort at music's biggest, pat-itself-on-the-back night. "Bit of a fish out of water, you know what I mean?" he said about his emotions that night. "It's not really my deal, but we're glad to be a part of it, we're glad to be recognized for what we do, and that's amazing." Mudvayne didn't take home the Grammy gold that night; they lost to Slipknot.
Remember how we said Gray is unassuming and a reluctant rock star? Well, he refuses to apply that loaded term to his life and career. He forgoes the trappings of rock stardom and excess, such as fast cars and a crib in the Hollywood Hills in favor of a truck and a rancher! He told KNAC, "No, I'm not a rock star. A rock star has a Ferrari in a garage at his mansion. I'm a touring musician. I have a pickup truck, I have a ranch house. I work my ass off. I play in two bands."